P&Z Watch: More Requirements for Affordable & Workforce Housing in Business Zones; More Incentives for Developers

A zoning text amendment designed to incentivize “inclusionary” affordable housing in Greenwich’s business zones was presented at Tuesday night’s P&Z commission meeting.

A moratorium has been in place for over a year on the town reg section 6-110, which has dealt exclusively with moderate or “workforce” housing targeting town employees.

Several applications had been submitted from developers under 6-110, but there were complaints from developers that the requirements were onerous, and on the other side there were complaints that FAR was too generous, leading to bulky buildings.

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A zoning text amendment designed to incentivize “inclusionary” affordable housing in Greenwich’s business zones was presented at Tuesday night’s P&Z commission meeting.

For example, an application dragged on through multiple ARC and P&Z meetings for a 7 unit development at 62 Mason Street. The developer incurred significant expense for engineers, architects and landscape architects to represent him in repeated meetings.

Objections included the building’s bulk, loss of a mature town tree, a wide curb cut, and a generous FAR in exchange for just 2 moderate “workforce” units.

The development is under construction today.

Then, in the midst of the moratorium, the topic of affordable housing heated up across in CT, culminating in proposed SB 1024 for statewide zoning, with the assumption that increased supply will lower costs and result in more affordable housing.

The new text amendment proposed Tuesday night would encourage both workforce housing and Affordable housing.

Both are available to apply for based on income caps.

The workforce housing cap is based on average town employee salary which is around $99,000.

The Affordable housing cap uses a State definition, where the income is based on 80% of state median income, which is around $57,000 a year.

Town Planner Katie DeLuca and the commission explained the proposed amendment.

Once more than 5 units are proposed, there is a requirement to have a below market rate component.

A possible fourth story allowed in some cases as an incentive has to be stepped back.

There is language about open space and adequate distance between buildings.

CGBR (Greenwich Ave) is not included because that zone already offers a larger floor area.

“The commission felt it was not appropriate to go beyond those incentives already offered (in CGBR) in order to gain the below market rate units,” DeLuca said.

Table 1 refers to what can be done in the GB (General Business), GBO (General Business Office), CGB (central Greenwich Business) zones, in terms height and bulk incentives. Table 1 shows incentives in response to number of units. MID is short for moderate income dwelling units (based on average town employee salary of $99,000). AHU is short for Affordable Housing Unit (based on 80% of state median income, which is around $57,000).

Incentives have to do with coverage, rear setbacks, allowing driveway from a business development across from a residential development.

GB and GBO are typically the larger lots along the Post Road. CGB is just outside the downtown (Greenwich Ave.)

To build 4 or fewer units and take advantage of the incentive, a developer is required to provide one unit of moderate income dwelling unit (MID) based on the average town employee salary of $99,000.

For residential or mixed use developments with 4 or fewer units, a FAR of .6 is permitted and 1 of the 4 units is deed restricted for moderate income.

Between 11 an 24 units, a developer gets .75 FAR, as of right, and an additional 1,000 sq ft per housing unit and an extra story and higher height in exchange for 15% of total units being below market rate.

For example, if there were a 20 unit building, the developer could have 17 units at market rate, and 3 units (15%) must be affordable housing units. It could be all residential or a mixed use building.

That 20 unit building could have .75 FAR plus an additional 3,000 sq ft of FAR which comes from the 3 affordable units. The extra 1,000 sq ft per unit that could be used anywhere in the building. There is a cap at .9 FAR. But the additional FAR cannot be added to the FAR of the commercial part of the development, which is capped based on the underlying zone for commercial.

Table 2 refers to zoning regs for the LBR2 and LB zones.

Business Zone Map for Cos Cob
Byram Business Zone map #2
Byram Business Zone map #2

Business Zone Map for Cos Cob (17)

Business Zone Map for Cos Cob
Business Zone Map for Cos Cob (16)
P&Z business zone 21
Business zone Sound Beach Ave, Village in Old Greenwich 21
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DeLuca said revisions to the draft amendment were already under consideration. One is to include the Waterfront Business zone and the RMF (residential multi family).

“In other words, every zone in which multi-family dwelling units are already permitted would now have an inclusionary requirement,” DeLuca said. “Other than the CBGR (Greenwich Ave).”

Parking Requirements

Dwelling with studio or one Bedroom: 1 parking space per bedroom; b. Dwelling with Two Bedrooms: 1.25 parking space per bedroom; c. Dwellings with three or more Bedrooms: 1.5 parking spaces per bedroom.

Bike Racks

The Planning and Zoning Commission may, at its discretion, require that bicycle racks be installed as a condition of site plan approval for multi-family housing, subject to the requirements of Section 6-155.

General Requirements

Requirements include that an applicant for below market rate cannot own other real estate in town to apply for one of the units.

The below market units shall be comparable to market rate units within the development.

Resale Restrictions

Below market rate units shall be restricted for 40 years, beginning on the date of issue of the Certificate of Occupancy.

See also:

P&Z Watch: Greenwich’s New Housing Trust Fund Is in the Works